Top Tennessee SBA Lenders | TN SBA Loans

Last update: Jun 22, 2024

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Top SBA lenders in Tennessee

RankSBA LenderSBA Lender HQs# of LoansAvg Interest Avg Loan
1U.S. BankCINCINNATI, OH1309.7% $227,212
2BayFirst National BankSaint Petersburg, FL5012.5% $154,006
3United Midwest Savings BankDE GRAFF, OH4811.2% $184,458
4Huntington BankCOLUMBUS, OH3810.8% $388,921
5Noah BankMiami, FL2711.5% $776,574
6Newtek BankMiami, FL2711.5% $776,574
7Readycap Lending, LLCBERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ2313.5% $128,109
8Pinnacle BankNASHVILLE, TN2310.3% $769,965
9Live OakWILMINGTON, NC189.4% $2,436,167
10BancorpSouth BankTUPELO, MS1311.1% $401,615
11Bank of AmericaCHARLOTTE, NC117.8% $476,936
12Northeast BankLEWISTON, ME1111.2% $110,009
13Wells FargoSIOUX FALLS, SD912.2% $238,656
14SouthState BankWINTER HAVEN, FL811.2% $318,750
15First Bank of the LakeOSAGE BEACH, MO711.4% $1,215,729
16Berkshire BankPITTSFIELD, MA610.8% $1,564,333
17CapStar BankNASHVILLE, TN611.3% $1,384,500
18Celtic BankSALT LAKE CITY, UT611.0% $1,074,333
19JPMorgan Chase BankCOLUMBUS, OH612.5% $173,333
20United Community BankBLAIRSVILLE, GA610.1% $886,333

Interest rates for SBA loans in Tennessee

The table below shows the average interest rates for SBA loans in Tennessee during the past few quarters for loans over $50,000. Note that most SBA loans are variable-rate loans, so borrowers may benefit from lower rates in the future if the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates.

YearQtr# of Loans Avg LoanAvg Rate
20241159 $611,27210.9%
2023485 $772,03611.0%
20233170 $791,56510.7%
20232107 $597,29010.3%
2023197 $545,7039.7%
2022484 $800,7648.4%
20223102 $734,6167.6%
2022298 $1,056,6856.0%
2022172 $591,1095.5%
2021474 $943,3115.4%
20213152 $1,142,4955.3%
2021287 $866,5715.4%
2021172 $736,9965.6%

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Top industries receiving SBA loans in Tennessee

Here are the top 20 industries in Tennessee based on small business loan volume from last year. This information can help you gauge what to expect for your business in terms of interest rates from SBA lenders:

RankIndustry (NAICS Description)# of LoansAvg Interest Avg Loan
1Full-Service Restaurants2311.5% $545,843
2Residential Remodelers2210.8% $76,682
3Limited-Service Restaurants2110.2% $416,548
4Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers1710.6% $550,600
5All Other Specialty Trade Contractors1410.5% $612,079
6Landscaping Services1411.4% $578,386
7Other Personal Care Services1410.8% $794,429
8General Automotive Repair1110.0% $566,164
9Insurance Agencies and Brokerages1011.6% $216,870
10Electrical Contractors910.9% $167,667
11Pet Care (except Veterinary) Services911.6% $377,322
12Snack and Nonalcoholic Beverage Bars910.1% $359,144
13Painting and Wall Covering Contractors811.2% $200,625
14Janitorial Services711.7% $98,343
15Nail Salons710.9% $994,043
16Offices of Dentists78.8% $2,091,071
17Residential Property Managers711.6% $529,286
18All Other Amusement and Recreation Industries611.0% $668,117
19Beauty Salons611.2% $418,867
20Flooring Contractors610.6% $94,167

Tennessee SBA lenders FAQs


Who are the top SBA lenders in Tennessee?

The best SBA lenders in Tennessee are those closing the highest number of SBA loans in the state. You can find them listed in the table above. This data is updated quarterly and reflects the rolling 12-month period.


How do I qualify for an SBA loan in Tennessee?

To qualify for an SBA loan in Tennessee, your business (or the one you’re acquiring) must meet size standards, demonstrate the ability to repay, and have a sound business purpose. Contact an SBA-preferred lender in Tennessee or use our SBA Lender Match tool to check your eligibility. Common reasons for disqualification include:

1. Insufficient Cash Flow: Ensure you have enough cash flow to cover SBA loan payments. Use our SBA Maximum Loan calculator to determine your maximum loan amount.

2. Low Credit Score: A credit score of 650 or above is generally required.

3. High Working Capital Needs: Loans over $150,000 primarily for working capital face stricter scrutiny.

4. Business Acquisitions: Lack of industry or relevant experience and insufficient down payment (typically 10% or more) can be disqualifying factors.

Complete our SBA Lender Match tool, and we’ll provide a preliminary assessment of your SBA loan eligibility. We can then connect you with lenders who specialize in Tennessee SBA loans.


What is the SBA 7(a) loan program?

The SBA 7(a) loan program is the most popular SBA loan, offering up to $5 million for various business purposes, including working capital, equipment, and real estate. This program is available to businesses throughout Tennessee and offers flexible terms. Unlike SBA 504 loans, which require a Certified Development Company (CDC) and full collateralization by real estate, 7(a) loans are quicker and more versatile. At, we specialize in assisting with SBA 7(a) loans and can also help with 504 loans if needed.


What is the SBA 504 loan program?

The SBA 504 loan program offers long-term, fixed-rate financing for major assets like real estate and equipment, providing up to $5.5 million. Designed to promote business growth and job creation in Tennessee, this program requires both a Certified Development Company (CDC) and an SBA lender to finance portions of the loan. While SBA 504 loans offer significant benefits, they typically take longer to close and require full collateralization, resulting in lower activity compared to SBA 7(a) loans. At, we can assist you with securing an SBA 504 loan to support your Tennessee business.


Which SBA loan is easiest to get approved for?

SBA loans of $150,000 or less from an SBA preferred lender are the easiest to get approved for. The application process is streamlined, with most lenders focusing primarily on the individual borrower’s credit score rather than the business itself.


What types of businesses are eligible for SBA loans in Tennessee?

Most small businesses in Tennessee are eligible for SBA loans, including those in manufacturing, retail, service, and agriculture. Certain restrictions apply, so it’s best to consult with your Tennessee SBA lender or to confirm your eligibility.

Common Ineligible SBA Loan Inquiries we see at include:

  1. Passive Income Businesses: Businesses generating passive income, like rental real estate or apartment purchases, are ineligible for SBA loans, which are designed for active businesses. Hotels are eligible but AirBNBs are not.
  2. Leasing or Finance Companies: Businesses mainly involved in leasing or financing are not eligible for SBA loans due to their operational nature.
  3. Venture Capital or Private Investor Consortiums: Entities formed solely to invest in other businesses do not qualify for SBA loans. This includes general partners of special purpose vehicles seeking to leverage equity for investments.


How do I find an SBA-approved lender in Tennessee?

Through our SBA Lender Match tool, we can introduce you to three (or more) SBA lenders who serve the Tennessee market. All of the SBA lenders in our network are SBA preferred lenders, and the individual bankers work exclusively on SBA loans.


Can I use an SBA loan to buy a franchise in Tennessee?

Yes, SBA loans can be used to purchase a franchise in Tennessee or create a startup. In fact, SBA lenders prefer franchises over startups as generally the franchise has already demonstrated success in the marketplace. Your SBA lender can help you navigate the process and secure financing for your franchise purchase.


How can an SBA loan help my small business in Tennessee?

SBA loans offer several advantages over conventional loans, making them especially attractive for acquisitions. They have no collateral requirements, no debt covenants, and offer longer repayment terms—10 or 25 years—which result in lower monthly payments. Although SBA loans generally have slightly higher interest rates, these benefits can help your Tennessee small business manage cash flow, invest in growth opportunities, and reduce financial strain.


Can I refinance existing debt with an SBA loan in Tennessee?

Yes, SBA loans can be used to refinance existing business debt under certain conditions, but in general one SBA loan can’t be used to pay off an existing SBA loan. This can help reduce your interest rate and improve cash flow as SBA loans have ten-year terms or 25 years if real estate. Talk to your SBA lender in Tennessee to explore refinancing options.


How do SBA loan guarantees work?

SBA loan guarantees reduce the risk for lenders by backing a portion of the loan amount. This makes it easier for lenders to finance small businesses in Tennessee that might not qualify for conventional loans. However, this guarantee doesn’t prevent the lender from pursuing the borrower in the event of a loan default. The lender is required to do so and will require all 20%+ owners of the business to personally guarantee the SBA loan.


What support services are available for small businesses in Tennessee?

Tennessee offers numerous support services for small businesses, including Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), SCORE chapters, and local chambers of commerce. These organizations provide free or low-cost business counseling, training, and resources to help your business succeed.


Other FAQs about the best SBA lenders in Tennessee

People frequently ask us if one of the banks above is 1) on the Tennessee preferred lender list 2) an approved lender in Tennessee, or 3) participating in the Tennessee SBA Express lending program. All these questions revolve around whether a given SBA bank makes small business SBA loans in Tennessee and can they process SBA loans quickly. The answer is yes, of course. These are not the small banks that only make a few SBA loans a year and do not understand the SBA 7(a) loan program. These are the banks that have made the most SBA loans in Tennessee and in Nashville.

We analyze thousands of SBA loans each year and rank lenders based on recent activity. We would be remiss if we did not mention that although many banks will only lend in certain geographies, there are a handful of extremely aggressive nationwide SBA lenders who will lend anywhere. These lenders understand the SBA program as well as anyone and move very quickly, so we recommend not limiting your search to your home state. If you utilize our lender match tool, we can find you suitable SBA banks based on your geography, industry, and company and size at no cost or obligation to you to save you valuable time.

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